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Mall roof cave-in injures at least 4 in Eliott Lake (Northern Ontario)

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Story update - Friday, June 29.
This will be my final update of this story. Story is from National Post:

The owners of the Algo Centre Mall announced plans to rebuild Thursday, even as the fiancé of one of two women killed when its roof collapsed is calling for the Elliot Lake, Ont., shopping centre to be razed to the ground.

Eastwood Mall Inc. and Robert Nazarian plan to reconstruct the 200,000-square-foot shopping centre in the Northern Ontario community, but are awaiting a report from engineers on the building’s condition after part collapsed Saturday, their lawyer said.

“One day, this mall will be up again. In what form, in what shape, in what format, I don’t know,” Antoine-René Fabris said at a press conference. “It is early, but Eastwood Mall is here to stay.”

Mr. Fabris said the owners had received notice of a class-action lawsuit.

Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Dolores Perizzolo, 70, were killed after a section of the roof came crashing through two floors.

Gary Gendron, Ms. Aylwin’s fiancé, called for the building to be torn down.

There have been calls for a public inquiry to determine why the rooftop parking lot buckled and why it took four days for rescuers to reach the victims.“That mall should be demolished,” he said. “[It should be replaced with] maybe some kind of a park, for people to walk to, maybe with a couple of nice statues with Dolores’ name and Lucie’s name on it.”

“Based on what I saw, they could have been saved,” said Mr. Gendron, though he thanked rescuers for their efforts.

Signs of life were last detected early Monday.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said the coroner’s office was investigating the deaths with the help of provincial police. The Ministry of Labour, which visited the mall six times in the last three years, will also be conducting a probe.

Mr. Nazarian did not appear Thursday, partly because he had received “death threats,” said Mr. Fabris.

The anger in the tight-knit community of 12,000 was clear during the press conference.

“We are not stupid,” shouted resident Valerie Clarke.

“We all had bets when this mall was going to go down, and we were hoping it would be at night time so no one would get hurt.”

The mall had been “recently” inspected by “technical firms” and passed, said Mr. Fabris, replying to charges the owners knew the building was structurally unsound.

“My family was in the mall when it collapsed … If I had thought there was any danger, I certainly would not have put my family in harm’s way,” he said.

Ms. Clarke claimed “no one of Elliot Lake’ would have let anyone they knew enter the mall, putting their lives at risk.

“Madam, I feel your grief … please, I’m a member of the community as well,” Mr. Fabris replied.

“When all this media circus leaves at the end of next week, all that’s left is the Elliot Lakers. I’m a person of Elliot Lake as well.”

The lawyer said the owners offered their sympathies to the victims, and are talking to their insurers about benefits for mall employees and store owners.

Algo Centre Mall, which employed 300-400 people, was built by Algoma Central Properties in 1980 and sold to Elliot Lake Retirement Living in 1999. Eastwood bought it in 2005.

The mall, a social and economic hub for the city, was plagued by a leaky roof because of friction from the parking lot, said Mr. Fabris.

The owners had been planning for two years to move the parking lot to land nearby.

Mr. Nazarian spent more than $1-million in repairing the roof, he added.

City officials said the mall conformed to fire and building codes. Mr. McGuinty said the mall’s history will be under “intense review” and be made public. But residents said cars on the rooftop could be heard by customers inside the mall. Mr. Gendron also cited buckets around the mall to catch water “raining from the ceiling.”

“There was nothing safe there at all,” he said. “I think, myself, that mall should have been closed a long time ago.”

National Post has compiled a collection of photographs taken prior to the collapse, showing the dilapidation of the mall.

Story update- Sunday night
Authorities say it appears one person died and another is trapped after part of a roof collapsed at a mall in the Northern Ontario city of Elliot Lake. They confirmed that news Sunday, a day after the roof-top parking lot gave way at the Algo Centre Mall, causing two entire floors to drop in the shopping centre. Also reported is that two vehicles went through from the rooftop parking, one with occupants. The Ontario Provincial Police's site commander said rescue officials using camera equipment to scour the wreckage discovered the person who is thought to have perished. We just have a visual, and the location is such that we cannot approach it at this time.

Rescuers believe someone else is trapped in the debris, too, somebody has tapped on the wreckage in response to shouts from rescuers.

It has been confirmed that the exact position where the ceiling fell with the vehicles is home to a lotto booth, and is right near the escalators, and directly next to food court seating. This is probably the highest traffic point in the mall.

A visitor to the Elliot Lake Standard's website, mEdia LuNa, posted this comment on a letter to the editor published by the paper, from the Mall Manager, two months prior to the incident:

I refuse to go into the mall unless absolutely necessary because of the leaks, the mould, the ready to collapse fixed ceilings in the news kiosk area by the food court. Nope, I'm not going to take a chance that I'll fall over a bucket or slip in a puddle of water or get hit on the head with a falling bit of ceiling or strangle myself on a dangling hose from a yellow tarp. There are broken windows and bricks ready to fall at the Zellers entrance at the rooftop. So yes sure you've spent a lot of money but the place is a nightmare and thank goodness the Fire Department found the problems. I can't imagine as a consumer not only having to deal with the water and the mould but also the lack of fire services and alarms - how dangerous is that! My gawd how can you defend your operation when it was found in violation of the law and fined. So lots of luck fixing the rooftop but for me the damage is done and I'm not interested in endangering myself by going into that wreck of a building.

Original Story:
I rated this PG, as the youtube video I downloaded for this has people speculating there may be many deaths, although this has not been reported by media, and won't be known for sure until Sunday morning (OPP team coming up, it's a pretty long drive).
A section of roof of a shopping mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., has collapsed, hospitalizing at least four people and sending cars crashing to a concourse below. The roof caved in around 2:20 p.m. Saturday at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario. The video was taken by Kevin McSheffrey, editor of the Elliot Lake Standard. McSheffrey was covering a dinner theatre production in the mall when the roof collapsed.

The gist of the story below or the full article from CBC

Four people were rushed to hospital, though none of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening. The mayor was not able to confirm whether there were any fatalities. An OPP urban extraction unit was dispatched to the site in case anyone was trapped and needed to be rescued. Officials said they would probably not have word of any possible deaths until Sunday.

The part of the roof that caved in served as a parking area for customers and mall staff.

In the audio recording, the mall's fire alarms go off and people begin evacuating the scene after what sounds like the crash of a massive wave. "You can see the roof with the cars hanging inside".
Emergency officials turned off the mall's power due to a gas leak caused by the collapse.

Rhonda Bear, the Algo Centre Mall manager, told CBC News that the mall has been doing repair and maintenance work on parts of its roof over the last year, but "there hasn't been any huge structural repairs" to the section of the mall that gave way. She also said that the owners of the mall, Toronto-based Eastwood Mall Inc., ordered an engineering and structural study on the nearly 30-year-old building, parking lot and adjoining hotel a month ago. "It turned up nothing," Bear said.

The Standard newspaper has previously reported that the mall had been "plagued" with leaks from the roof for years. About four years ago, the mall's owners embarked on a $1-million overhaul of the roof to end the leaks, which were forcing merchants to shut their stores as well as damaging their wares. An architect on the project warned that if moisture accumulated in some of the fibreboard pads lining the roof's concrete slabs, the pads could deteriorate.

The newspaper also reported that part of the ceiling in a mall restaurant collapsed due to the leaks, and that the roof's patchwork of repairs was "easy to see."

In March, the mall's managers pleaded guilty in provincial court to having sprinklers and fire alarms that failed to meet the fire code. Management spent $50,000 to upgrade the fire-prevention infrastructure to avoid potentially heftier fines.
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Added: Jun-24-2012 Occurred On: Jun-24-2012
By: akaangus
Regional News
Tags: elliot lake, mall, collapse, roof, parking garage, damage, structural fail
Location: Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada (load item map)
Views: 2449 | Comments: 5 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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